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425+ Popular European Last Names: With Meanings

These European last names are every writer’s fantasy!

Are you looking to explore your cultural background or give your characters realistic and varied histories? This list of over 400 European last names offers many opportunities for inspiration.

Peruse everything from noble titles to rustic epithets with these curated European surnames.
From Russia to Ireland and Norway to Greece, we’ve collected the coolest European family names from border to border.

Here, you’ll find meanings and etymologies to enrich your character’s identity or discover your own. Let’s take a trip to the “peninsula of peninsulas” as you read ahead and discover these diverse European last names.

170 Western European Last Names

Here are the most common Western European surnames.

  1. Andersen – means “son of Anders” in Danish, derived from a Scandinavian form of Andrew (manly).
  2. Anderson – is an English surname meaning “son of Andrew” and a given name meaning “manly.”
  3. Bakker – a Dutch cognate of Baker, meaning “baker,” which is highly common in the Netherlands.
  4. Bauer – is German and Austrian, from the Old High German “bur,” meaning “farmer.”
  5. Beck – is English, German, and Liechtensteinian, for “beak,” “stream,” “pickaxe,” and “baker.”
  6. Becker – comes from the Middle High German “becker,” meaning “baker,” and “becher,” meaning “cup, goblet.”
  7. Bernard – is French, English, Dutch, and German from the Germanic elements meaning “brave/hardy bear.”
  8. Bianchi – means “white” in Italian, denoting someone with a pale complexion.
  9. Breathnach – also spelled Breatnach, an Irish surname meaning “from Breton” or “Welshman.”
  10. Brown – is English and Scottish from a nickname for someone with brown skin or hair.
  11. Brunner – is German, Swiss, and Austrian from “brunne” (spring, well) or denoting someone from Brunn/Brunnen.
  12. Bruno – is Italian and Portuguese for “brown,” denoting hair or skin color.
  13. Büchel – is German and Swiss from the place name Büchelin (beech grove).
  14. Byrne – the third most common Irish surname, from Ó Broin (son of Bran), meaning “raven.”
  15. Campbell – a Scottish surname from the Gaelic nickname “cam-beul” meaning “wry” or “crooked mouth.”
  16. Cellario – a surname from Monaco with old Italian roots.
  17. Christensen – is Danish for “son of Christen,” a variant of Christian (follower of Christ).
  18. Claes – is Flemish for “(son) of Nicolaas” from a short form of the earlier Niclaes.
  19. Colombo – stems from an Italian given name derived from Latin, meaning “dove.”
  20. Connor – comes from the Irish Conchobar, meaning “wolf kin” or “dog/hound lover.”
  21. Costa – is Portuguese, Catalan, and Italian for “riverbank, slope, coast,” from the Latin for “rib, side.”
  22. Crovetto – an Italian surname, possibly from a nickname with the element “corvo,” meaning “raven.”
  23. Culpepper – comes from the Middle English “cullen” (to pick) and pepper, denoting a collector or seller of spices.
  24. Davies – an English and Scottish form of Davis (son of David), and Welsh for “from Dyfed.”
  25. De Jong – means “the young” in Dutch and is the number one surname in the Netherlands.
  26. De Smet – is Flemish for “the blacksmith, metalworker,” from the Dutch “smit.”
  27. De Vries – is Dutch for “the Frisian,” from an archaic spelling of the location of Friesland.
  28. Doherty – comes from the Irish Ó Dochartaigh (son of Dochartach), a nickname meaning “obstructive.”
  29. Doyle – is Irish-Scottish from the Irish Ó Dubhghaill (son of Dubhghall), a form of Dougal (dark stranger).
  30. Dubois – from the French “bois,” meaning “wood,” given to someone living or working in the forest.
  31. Du Pont – a French surname associated with old money, meaning “of/from the bridge.”
  32. Durand – is French from the Catalan “duran,” meaning “firm, steadfast.”
  33. Esposito – means “placed outside” or “exposed” in Italian, denoting an abandoned child or orphan.
  34. Evans – means “son of Even,” which is an Anglicization of Ifan, the Welsh version of John.
  35. Fernandes – is the Portuguese form of Fernandez, meaning “son of Fernando.”
  36. Fernandez – is Andorran and Spanish for “son of Fernando,” meaning “brave journey” or “peaceful boldness.”
  37. Ferrari – a popular Italian surname associated with a car brand, from “ferraro,” meaning “blacksmith, metalworker.”
  38. Ferreira – means “iron forge” from the Latin “ferrum” (iron), used in Galician and Portuguese.
  39. Fischer – means “fisherman” in German and is the fourth most common surname in Germany.
  40. Font – is Catalan and Occitan for someone living near a “spring” or “well.”
  41. Frick – a diminutive of the German Friedrich (peaceful ruler) or means “lively, brisk” in Norman.
  42. Garcia – a Portuguese and Spanish surname, possibly from the Basque “hartz,” meaning “bear.”
  43. Gassner – is German and Jewish for someone living in an “alley,” or a Swiss-German variant of Geisner (goatherd).
  44. González – is Spanish for “son of Gonzalo,” meaning “war hall,” “dark/soothing warrior,” or “war ointment/salve.”
  45. Goossens – is Flemish-Dutch, meaning “(son) of Goos,” from the Germanic element “goz” (a Geat).
  46. Greco – a common Italian surname meaning “from Greece, Greek.”
  47. Griffiths – is Welsh for “son of Gruffudd,” a given name meaning “strong chief/lord.”
  48. Gruber – is most common in Austria and comes from the German “grube,” meaning “pit.”
  49. Gómez – is the Spanish form of the medieval Portuguese Gomes (man).
  50. Haigh – is of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning “hedge,” from the Old English “haga” (enclosure).
  51. Hansen – originates in Scandinavia, meaning “son of Hans” in Norwegian and Danish.
  52. Hasler – is Swiss-German from the Old English elements “hæsel” and “ōfer,” meaning “hazel bank/slope.”
  53. Hofer – an Austrian and German occupational surname from the German “hof” (farm/yard/ court).
  54. Hoffmann – comes from Middle High German “hofmann,” meaning “farmer,” and is a highly common German surname.
  55. Huber – means “farmer” from the Old High German “huoba, hube” (a plot of land for a farmer).
  56. Hughes – from the Germanic Hugh (heart/mind), meaning “son of Hugh.”
  57. Ingham – comes from Old English, meaning “Inga’s homestead.”
  58. Jacobs – is English and Dutch for “(son) of Jacob,” from the Hebrew Ya’aqov (supplanter).
  59. Jansen – means “son of Jan (John)” and is the second most common surname in the Netherlands.
  60. Janssens – is Dutch-Flemish and North German, meaning “son of Jan” (a form of Johannes).
  61. Jesus – is a Portuguese surname from a Hebrew given name meaning “Jehovah/Yahweh is salvation.”
  62. Johnson – is Anglo-Norman, meaning “son of John,” ultimately from a Hebrew name meaning “Jehovah is gracious.”
  63. Johnston – taken from a Scottish place name, combining John and the Middle English “ton” (town/settlement).
  64. Jones – comes from Jon, a medieval derivative of John (Jehovah is gracious).
  65. Jørgensen – means “son of Jørgen,” a Danish-Norwegian form of George (earth-worker/farmer).
  66. Keller – means “cellar” in German, denoting someone in charge of food and drink or a winemaker.
  67. Kelly – is from the Irish Ceallaigh, meaning “bright-headed,” and from the Scottish “coille,” meaning “grove.”
  68. Kershaw – derives from the Middle English “kirk,” meaning “church,” and “shaw,” meaning “grove.”
  69. Kindle – is German and Liechtensteinian, with just over 6,000 bearers worldwide, meaning “the River Kent Valley.”
  70. Klein – is German-Dutch, meaning “small, little,” from the German “klein” or Yiddish “kleyn.”
  71. Koch – associated with a wealthy business and political family, meaning “cook” in German.
  72. Lambert – is French from the Old German elements “lant” (land) and “beraht” (bright).
  73. Larsen – comes from Scandinavia and means “son of Lars” in Danish and Norwegian.
  74. Laurent – a French name, meaning “from Laurentum” in Latin and “bright, shining” in Old Greek.
  75. Leroy – comes from the French “le roi” (the king) and is common in France and Belgium.
  76. Lewis – stems from the English Lewis (famous in battle) and is an Anglicization of the Welsh Llywelyn.
  77. Lopez -is Spanish for “son of Lope,” a form of the Latin Lupus, meaning “wolf.”
  78. Lorenzi – comes from the medieval Italian Lorenzoni (descendant of Lorenzo), meaning “from Laurentum.”
  79. MacDonald – an Anglicization of the Scottish and Irish Gaelic MacDhòmhnaill (son of the world ruler).
  80. Mac Murchaidh – is Irish for “descendant of Murchadh,” meaning “sea warrior.”
  81. Madsen – means “son of Mads,” derived from the Danish form of Matthew (gift of God).
  82. Maes – a medieval Dutch form of Maas, a diminutive of Thomaes (Thomas), meaning “twin.”
  83. Marino – originates with an Italian given name from the Latin Marinus (of the sea/seaman).
  84. Martin – is associated with a saint, meaning “of Mars,” and is the most common surname in France.
  85. Martinez – is Spanish for “son of Martín,” meaning “of Mars (the god).”
  86. Martins – a Latvian patronymic meaning “son of Martim,” a Portuguese form of Martinus.
  87. Marxer – is German and Austrian for “border keeper” and the second most common surname in Liechtenstein.
  88. Mayer – from a German word meaning “bailiff, administrator” and an English word meaning “mayor.”
  89. Meier – is German and Swiss for a “bailiff” or “(farm) steward,” and Jewish from “meir” (enlightened).
  90. Meijer – a Dutch form of Meyer, meaning “mayor, bailiff, steward.”
  91. Mertens – is Flemish, from the Dutch and German Merten, meaning “(son) of Merten.”
  92. Meyer – is German, meaning “doctor” or “mayor, bailiff,” and Jewish from the Hebrew “meir” (enlightened).
  93. Moore – stems from the Middle English “mor” (open land/bog) or the Latin Maurus (Moorish).
  94. Moreau – a French nickname meaning “dark-skinned,” from the Latin for “North African, Moorish.”
  95. Morgan – is an Anglicization of the Welsh Morcant, likely meaning “sea circle.”
  96. Moser – is German and Swiss from “mōs,” for someone living near a peat bog or moorland.
  97. Müller – comes from the Middle High German “mülnære” or “müller,” meaning “miller.”
  98. Murphy – is an Anglicization of the Irish Mac Murchaidh (son of Murchadh), meaning “sea warrior.”
  99. Murray – comes from the Irish Ó (son of) Muireadhaigh (lord, master) and Scottish Moray (seashore/coast).
  100. Nielsen – means “son of Niels,” a Danish form of Nicholas (victory of the people).
  101. O’Brien – comes from the Irish Ó Briain (descendant of Brian), meaning “high, noble.”
  102. Oehri – is a Germanic surname that is highly popular in Liechtenstein.
  103. Ogden – taken from a location combining the Old English “ac” (oak) and “denu” (valley).
  104. O’Kelly – is Anglicized from the Irish Ó Ceallaigh (son of Ceallach), which means “bright-headed.”
  105. Oliveira – comes from Portuguese, meaning “olive tree,” denoting someone living or working near live trees.
  106. O’Neill – is an Irish-Gaelic form of O’Neal (son of Neil), which may mean “cloud,” “fury,” or “hero.”
  107. Ospelt – a German surname that is quite common in Liechtenstein.
  108. O’Sullivan – comes from the Irish Ó Súilleabháin (descendant of the hawk-eyed one/dark-eyed one/one-eyed.
  109. Pastor – is Norman, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, meaning “shepherd.”
  110. Pedersen – is Danish-Norwegian for “son of Peder,” a Scandinavian form of Peter (stone/rock).
  111. Peeters – is Dutch and Flemish, meaning “(son) of Peter,” from the Greek “petros” (rock/stone).
  112. Pereira – stems from the Portuguese and Galician “pereira,” meaning “pear tree.”
  113. Perez – means “breach, burst forth” in Hebrew, Spanish, and Andoran, and “son of Pedro” in Portuguese.
  114. Petersen – is Danish-Norwegian for “son of Peter,” a given name meaning “stone, rock.”
  115. Petit – comes from Old French and Catalan, meaning “small, little.”
  116. Pichler – is South German and Austrian, from “pichl, pühl” (hill), for someone dwelling near/on a hill.
  117. Pircher – has German roots, possibly meaning “pear tree” or from “bītan,” meaning “to endure.”
  118. Pongratz – is from the Middle High German “pincguoz,” meaning “penguin.”
  119. Pratt – taken from the Old English “prætt” (trick/prank), denoting a prankster or cunning person.
  120. Rasmussen – is Danish-Norwegian, meaning “son of Rasmus,” a Scandinavian form of Erasmus (beloved).
  121. Reid – a Scottish form of the Middle English “read” (red), denoting someone’s hair or complexion.
  122. Reuter – from the Middle High German “riutœre,” meaning “highwayman, thief,” and “riute,” meaning “cleared (wood)land.”
  123. Ricci – is Italian for “curly (haired),” ultimately from the Latin “ericius,” meaning “hedgehog.”
  124. Ritter – comes from the Middle High German “riter,” meaning “rider, knight, mounted warrior.”
  125. Roberts – is English and Welsh for “son of Robert,” a given name meaning “bright fame.”
  126. Robertson – is English for “son of Robert,” a given name from the Germanic Hrodebert (bright fame).
  127. Robinson – is English for “son of Robin,” which is a diminutive of Robert, meaning “bright fame.”
  128. Rodriguez – another common Spanish surname, meaning “son of Rodrigo” (famous ruler/king).
  129. Romano – a common Italian surname meaning “Roman, from Rome.”
  130. Rossi – a patronymic or plural form of an Italian nickname for a red-haired or ruddy person.
  131. Ruiz – is Spanish for “son of Rui/Ruy,” ultimately from the Germanic Hrodric (famous ruler).
  132. Russo – a highly common Southern Italian variant of Rossi (red).
  133. Ryan – from the Anglicized form of the Irish Ó Riain, meaning “little king” or “illustrious.”
  134. Sanchez – is Spanish for “son of Sancho,” meaning “saintly, holy,” and is extremely common worldwide.
  135. Santos – is Spanish and Portuguese for “saints,” from the Latin word “sanctus.”
  136. Schädler – a German surname for a tub and bucket maker from “schedel” (small wooden tub/bucket).
  137. Schmidt – the second most common name in Germany, from the Middle High German “smit” (blacksmith, metalworker).
  138. Schmitz – a highly common German surname meaning “blacksmith” or “son of the smith.”
  139. Schneider – is the third most common German surname, meaning “one who cuts, tailor.”
  140. Schroeder – a variant of German surnames meaning “tailor” and “beer/wine porter.”
  141. Scott – is English and Scottish for a “Scotsman” or someone who spoke Scottish Gaelic.
  142. Silva – means “forest” in Spanish and Portuguese, ranking among the top surnames in Portugal and Brazil.
  143. Smit – a form of the Dutch “smid,” meaning “metalworker, blacksmith,” and a cognate of Smith.
  144. Smith – a common English and Scottish surname from the Anglo-Saxon “smid” (hit/strike) denoting a blacksmith.
  145. Smyth – an English variant of Smith (blacksmith), common in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  146. Sørensen – means “son of Søren,” a Danish version of the Latin Severinus, meaning “stern.”
  147. Sousa – denoted someone living near the River Sousa in Portugal, which meant “salty” or “rocks.”
  148. Steiner – from the Bavarian and German “stein,” meaning “stone,” for someone living by a prominent stone.
  149. Stewart – is Scottish, from Old English, meaning “steward of the house” or “house guard.”
  150. Sullivan – is an Anglicization of the Irish Súileabhán (dark-eyed/one-eyed/hawk-eyed one).
  151. Sutcliffe – an English surname meaning “(the) south cliff, southern slope.”
  152. Taylor – an English surname from the Old French “tailleur” (tailor), from the Latin “taliare” (to cut).
  153. Thill – comes from the Germanic Till, a diminutive of Thietilo, meaning “people, race.”
  154. Thomas – is an English surname from the personal Hebrew name Thomas (twin).
  155. Thompson – an English surname meaning “son of Thomas,” a given name meaning “twin.”
  156. Thomson – a variant of the English Thompson (son of Thomas), most common in Scotland.
  157. Torres – is Andorran, Spanish, and Portuguese for someone living near a tower, from the Latin “turris.”
  158. Van den Berg – means “of/from the mountain” in Flemish and is also spelled Vandenberg or Vandenburg.
  159. Van Dijk – is Dutch for “of/from the dike” and is common in the Netherlands.
  160. Visser – means “fisher, fisherman” in Dutch and is highly popular in the Netherlands.
  161. Vogt – is the fifth most common surname in Liechtenstein and is German for “bailiff, farm steward.”
  162. Wagner – comes from the Middle High German “wagener,” meaning “wagon maker” or “cartwright.”
  163. Walsh – is English and Irish for “Briton,” “foreigner,” or “(from) Wales, Welshman.”
  164. Weber – a German and Swiss cognate of “weaver,” from the Old English “wefan” (to weave).
  165. Willems – is a Dutch patronymic meaning “(son) of Willem,” meaning “will-helmet, desire to protect.”
  166. Williams – means “son of William” (desires to protect) and is common in England and Wales.
  167. Wilson – an English surname also used in Ireland and Scotland, meaning “son of Will.”
  168. Wouters – is Dutch for “(son) of Walter,” from the Germanic Waltheri, meaning “power of the army.”
  169. Wright – from the Old English “wyrhta” (maker/craftsman) and an Anglicization of the French Droit (upright).
  170. Yarbrough – is Anglo-Saxon, derived from a location rooted in the Old English “eorth-burgh,” meaning “earthen fortification.”

198 Eastern European Surnames

Here are the most popular Eastern European family names.

  1. Adamovic – a common Croatian and Austrian surname, meaning “son of Adam.”
  2. Ahmeti – is Kosovar, from the given name Ahmet, which means “commendable, praiseworthy.”
  3. Aivaliotis – denotes someone “from/of Ayvalik” in Greek.
  4. Albu – a common Romanian surname from the nickname “alb,” meaning “white.”
  5. Aldea – originates from an Arabic word meaning “village, hamlet” and is used in Romanian and Spanish.
  6. Alexandrescu – is Romanian for “son of Alexandru,” a Romanian form of Alexander (defender of men).
  7. Almassy – is Hungarian, meaning “from the apple orchard, apple grower,” from “alma,” meaning “apple.”
  8. Andov – comes from North Macedonia, meaning “son of Ande,” a diminutive of Andreas (manly).
  9. Andrei – a patronymic taken from the Romanian form of Andrew (manly/masculine).
  10. Angelov – is Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Russian for “son of Angel,” from the Latin-Greek word for “messenger.”
  11. Antunović – means “son of Antun (praiseworthy)” in Croatian.
  12. Arany – comes from the Hungarian word “arany,” meaning “gold, golden.”
  13. Ardelean – a common Romanian surname meaning “from Ardeal/Transylvania.”
  14. Babic – a Serbian and Croatian matronymic from the Slavic “baba” (old woman/grandmother).
  15. Baciu – a popular Romanian surname from “baci” (shepherd) and “oina” (captain/head).
  16. Bajrami – an Albanian patronymic from the given name Bajram, of Persian origin.
  17. Bajusz – means “mustache” or literally “hair under the nose” in Hungarian.
  18. Bako – an occupational surname from the Hungarian word “bakó,” meaning “executioner, axeman.”
  19. Balan – is Romanian for “blond,” popular in Romania and Moldova.
  20. Balázs – may be the Hungarian form of Blaise (lisping) or from the Hungarian word “bal” (white).
  21. Balog – also spelled Balogh, means “left-handed” in Hungarian, denoting left-handedness or clumsiness.
  22. Bárány – is a fairly common Hungarian surname meaning “lamb.”
  23. Baráth – comes from the Hungarian word “barát” (friend), originating from the Slavic “brat” (brother).
  24. Barbaneagra – is fairly common in Moldova, consisting of the Romanian “barba” and “neagra,” meaning “black beard.”
  25. Barbu – a common Romanian surname from “barbă,” meaning “bearded.”
  26. Bardhi – from the Albanian word for “white,” common in Albania and Kosovo.
  27. Barna – a nickname denoting a dark reddish or brown ox, from the Hungarian word “barna” (brown).
  28. Barta – a diminutive of Bertalan, a Hungarian form of Bartholomew, or Old Slavic “bart” (hairy).
  29. Bartha – comes from the Hungarian word “barth” (shepherd), or a variant of Barta, possibly meaning “hairy.”
  30. Bathory – denoted someone “from Bátor,” a Hungarian village, derived from a Turkic root meaning “hero.”
  31. Bektashi – is Albanian for a “follower of Bektashism” and a variant of Hoxhaj.
  32. Berisha – comes from a northern Albanian tribe and is the 3rd most common surname in Kosovo.
  33. Bíró – means “judge,” from the Hungarian word “bíró,” but is also common in Romania.
  34. Bogdanov – means “son of Bogdan” in Russian and Bulgarian, from the Slavic Bogdan (God-given).
  35. Bondarenko – is a Ukrainian patronymic from “bondar,” meaning “cooper, barrel maker.”
  36. Botezatu – a relatively common Romanian surname meaning “(one who has been) baptized.”
  37. Boyko – stems from a western Ukrainian ethnic group or highland tribe.
  38. Bucur – a common Romanian surname of ancient Dacian origin, meaning “happy, joyful.”
  39. Bukvic – occurs mainly in Czechia, Croatia, and even Serbia, meaning “son of Bukva (beech).”
  40. Butkovic – denotes someone from Butkovići in Croatia or the “son of Budislav,” from the Old Slavic “buditi.”
  41. Bytyqi – is a Kosovar and Albanian surname referring to a highland tribe.
  42. Cazacu – denotes someone dwelling near the Cazacu River in Romania.
  43. Ceban – is a Moldovan and Romanian surname meaning “shepherd.”
  44. Cebotari – means “shoemaker” in Moldovan and Romanian and is most common in Moldova.
  45. Çela – an extremely common Albanian surname from the Turkish “çelebi” (gentleman), a nickname for a brother-in-law.
  46. Černý – also spelled Černá in the feminine form, meaning “dark” or “black” in Czech.
  47. Ciobanu – comes from the Romanian “cioban,” meaning “shepherd,” and is common in Romania and Moldova.
  48. Cojocaru – comes from the Romanian “cojoc,” meaning “sheepskin coat,” denoting a furrier or coat-maker.
  49. Dąbrowski – is Polish for someone from Dąbrowa or Dobrów, originating from “dąb” (oak/oak grove).
  50. Davidov – a Russian and Jewish Ashkenazi surname that refers to a “son of David,” meaning “beloved.”
  51. Dervishi – an Albanian form of Darwish (needy), or a term for a “dervish, Bektashi clergy.”
  52. Dimitrov – a Bulgarian and North Macedonian surname, meaning “son of Dimitar.”
  53. Donev – means “son of Doncho” in Bulgarian and North Macedonian.
  54. Đorđević – means “son of Đorđe,” a Serbian form of George (farmer/earthworker).
  55. Dvořák – or the feminine Dvořáková, is Czech for “grange owner” or “manor worker.”
  56. Elezi – a widespread Albanian surname, likely meaning “warrior.”
  57. Farkas – is one of the most common Hungarian surnames, meaning “wolf.”
  58. Fekete – a common Hungarian surname meaning “swarthy” or “black (hair or complexion).”
  59. Filipov – means “son of Filip” in Bulgarian and North Macedonian.
  60. Gabor – comes from the Hungarian form of Gabriel, Hebrew for “able-bodied one of God.”
  61. Gashi – an Albanian surname mostly used in Kosovo from a northern Albanian tribe.
  62. Georgiev – one of the most common Bulgarian surnames, meaning “son of Georgi,” from George (farmer).
  63. Gjoni – comes from Gjon, an Albanian form of John (Jehovah is gracious).
  64. Golob – a common Slovenian surname meaning “pigeon” or “dove.”
  65. Hämäläinen – a highly popular Finnish surname for someone “from Häme,” a region in Finland.
  66. Hasani – is Albanian and Kosovar, from the Persian Hasan, denoting a “descendant/son of Hasan.”
  67. Heikkinen – derives from Heikki, a Finnish form of Henry (home ruler), and a diminutive suffix.
  68. Horvat – comes from Croatian and Slovenian Hrvat, meaning “Croat, a person from Croatia.”
  69. Horváth – is a Hungarian version of the Croatian Hrvat, meaning “Croat.”
  70. Horák – also spelled Horáková in the feminine form, it means “highlander,” from Czech “hora” (mountain).
  71. Hoti – is Kosovar and northwestern Albanian for a tribe “from the Hot” village.
  72. Hoxha – is the most common Albanian surname, originating with the Persian title “khawaja, khvajeh” (master/lord).
  73. Hristov – means “son of Hristo,” a Bulgarian diminutive of Christopher or Christian.
  74. Hysi – is an Albanian short form of Hussein, an Arabic diminutive of Hassan (handsome).
  75. Ilić – means “son of Ilija,” a Croatian and Serbian form of Elijah (my God is Jehovah).
  76. Ivanov – is Belarusian and Bulgarian for “son of Ivan,” from John (Jehovah is gracious).
  77. Ivanović – means “son of Ivan” in Montenegrin, a variety of the Serbo-Croatian language.
  78. Janev – is North Macedonian for “son of Jane” or “son of Yane,” a diminutive of Yoan (John).
  79. Jankowski – comes from Poland, meaning “son of Jan/Janko” or “from Janek,” a diminutive of Jan.
  80. Järvinen – comes from the Finnish “järvi” and the diminutive suffix “nen,” meaning “little lake.”
  81. Jovanović – is the most common Serbian-Montenegrin surname, meaning “son of Jovan (John).”
  82. Juhász – stems from the Hungarian word “juh” (sheep), denoting a “shepherd.”
  83. Kamiński – derives from the Polish “kamień” (stone), denoting a “stonecutter” or someone from a town called Kamień.
  84. Karpovich – is Belarusian for “son of Karp” and Ashkenazi Jewish for someone from Karpovichi in Belarus.
  85. Kastrati – is Albanian and Kosovar, derived from a tribe in northern Albania.
  86. Kiss – one of the most common Hungarian surnames, stemming from “kis,” meaning “small, little.”
  87. Kitanovski – is a Macedonian surname of uncertain meaning.
  88. Knežević – a Serbo-Croatian patronymic from “knez,” meaning “prince, headman.”
  89. Kola – derives from Nikollë, an Albanian form of Nicholas (victory of the people).
  90. Koloski – a Macedonian patronymic from Kola, a diminutive of Nikola (Nicholas).
  91. Kontos – means “short” in Greek, common in Greece and Cyprus.
  92. Korhonen – from a Finnish nickname meaning “deaf, hard of hearing,” also denotes someone elderly or clumsy.
  93. Kos – a Slavic surname meaning “blackbird,” also common in Poland, Croatia, and Czechia.
  94. Koskinen – one of the most common Finnish surnames, from “koski” and “nen” (little rapids).
  95. Kostov – means “son of Kosta,” a Bulgarian and Macedonian diminutive of Konstantin (steadfast).
  96. Koufos – is Greek, of uncertain meaning but possibly means “deaf.”
  97. Kováč – also spelled Kovács, a Hungarian spelling of the Slovak word meaning “blacksmith.”
  98. Kovacevic – is Croatian and Slovenian from Kovač (smith/blacksmith), meaning “smith’s son.”
  99. Koval – is Ukrainian and Russian for a “blacksmith, metalworker,” also common in Poland.
  100. Kowalczyk – one of the most common Polish surnames, from “kowal” (smith), meaning “smith’s son.”
  101. Kowalski – comes from “kowal,” meaning “blacksmith,” a common Polish surname.
  102. Kozlov – stems from the Russian nickname “kozyol” (male goat), a metaphor for “bearded one.”
  103. Krajnc – a Slovenian surname denoting someone “from Carniola.”
  104. Krasniqi – is Albanian, possibly from the word “kërsenik, kërseniku,” meaning “thrush” or “blackbird.”
  105. Kravchenko – a Ukrainian and Belarusian patronymic from “kravets,” meaning “tailor.”
  106. Kritikos – means “Cretan, from Crete,” from the Greek Kriti (Crete).
  107. Kryeziu – an Albanian surname common in Kosovo, possibly meaning “black-headed/black-haired.”
  108. Kučera – comes from the word “curl” in Czech, for someone with curly hair.
  109. Kuqi – an Albanian surname also used in Kosovo, meaning “red(head).”
  110. Kurti – is a highly common Albanian patronymic meaning “son of Kurt” from the Turkish “kurt” (wolf).
  111. Kuznetsov – an extremely popular Russian patronymic from “kuznets,” which means “blacksmith’s (son).”
  112. Kwiatkowski – stems from various locations derived from the Polish root “kwiat,” meaning “flower.”
  113. Lakatos – is Hungarian for a “locksmith,” but is also often used in Romania.
  114. Lebedev – comes from the Russian “lebed,” meaning “swan,” hence “of (the) swan.”
  115. Lewandowski – is a popular Polish surname from the archaic “lewanda” and modern “lawenda,” meaning “lavender.”
  116. Lungu – means “tall, long” in Romanian and is a cognate of the English surname Long.
  117. Makarevich – is a Belarusian surname from the Greek Makarios, meaning “fortunate, blessed.”
  118. Mäkinen – means “hilly,” from the Finnish “mäki,” meaning “hill.”
  119. Manasievski – means “son of Manas” in North Macedonian, from the Sanskrit for “mind, intellect” or “spirit.”
  120. Marek – a Polish, Czech, and Slovak form of Mark, meaning “of Mars,” or possibly “warlike.”
  121. Markov – is Slavic for “son of Marko/Mark,” used in North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia.
  122. Marković – means “son of Marko,” from Mark, and is common in Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro.
  123. Marku – is an Albanian form of Mark, meaning “of (the god) Mars.”
  124. Mazur – an Ashkenazi Jewish last name meaning “Mazovian” or “Masurian,” used in Poland, Ukraine, and Czechia.
  125. Mehmeti – comes from Mehmet, an Albanian and Turkish form of the Arabic Muhammad meaning “praiseworthy.”
  126. Melnyk – means “miller” and is the most common surname in Ukraine.
  127. Mészáros – is a common Hungarian surname meaning “butcher” or “slaughterer.”
  128. Milošević – is Serbian and Croatian for “son of Miloš,” from Miles or the Slavic “milu” (dear).
  129. Mlakar – is Slovenian-Croatian for someone living near a shallow pool, from the Slavic “mlaka” (pool/puddle).
  130. Molnár – means “miller” in Hungarian, from the Slavic word “mlinar.”
  131. Morina – is Albanian, common in Kosovo, from the Morina tribe in Kosovo.
  132. Moroz – means “frost” used in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.
  133. Morozov – comes from “moroz,” meaning “frost,” which is highly common in Russia.
  134. Muça – is a popular Albanian surname with an uncertain meaning.
  135. Munteanu – stems from the Romanian “muntean,” meaning “mountaineer” or “from the mountain,” common in Moldova.
  136. Mytaras – is Greek for “large-nosed,” limited to Greece.
  137. Nagy – a popular Hungarian surname, also spelled Nad, meaning “big, great.”
  138. Németh – denotes a “German,” from the Hungarian word “néma,” meaning “does not speak, mute.”
  139. Nieminen – a highly common Finnish surname meaning “peninsula, cape,” from the word “niemi.”
  140. Nikolić – means “son of Nikola,” a Serbian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian form of Nicholas (the people’s victory).
  141. Nikolov – means “son of Nikolay,” a Russian and Bulgarian form of Nicholas (victory of the people).
  142. Novak – comes from the Slavic root “novy” (new), for a “newcomer, new man” in a village.
  143. Novik – a common Belarusian surname from the Slavic word “novy,” meaning “new.”
  144. Novikov – a Russian and Belarusian patronymic meaning “newman’s, son of the newcomer.”
  145. Novotný – stems from the Slavic “novy,” meaning “new man, newcomer,” in Czech.
  146. Nowak – a Polish form of Novak, meaning “newcomer, newman.”
  147. Oláh – is Hungarian for a “Romanian,” from the Old Slavic Vlach or “volhu,” meaning “Romance-speaker.”
  148. Papoutsis – means “shoe maker” in Greek, ultimately derived from the Persian-Turkish “papoutsi” (shoe).
  149. Papp – is Hungarian for “priest” and a German nickname possibly from the Latin “pappare” (to eat).
  150. Pavlov – means “son of Pavel,” a Russian form of Paul (humble), or from “pavar” (temple).
  151. Perović – is Montenegrin, Serbian and Croatian for “son of Pero,” a diminutive of Petar (stone).
  152. Petrov – a Slavic surname meaning “son of Peter,” common in Russia, Belarus, and Bulgaria.
  153. Polishchuk – a Ukrainian surname from a region, meaning “Polesian, from Polesia.”
  154. Popa – stems from the Slavic “pop,” meaning “priest,” and is the most common surname in Romania.
  155. Popov – is Russian for “priest’s son,” from the Slavic “pop” and Greek “pappas” (father).
  156. Potočnik – a Slovenian surname meaning “(lives near) a stream” from “potok” (stream, brook).
  157. Prifti – is Albanian for “priest,” denoting a cleric of either the Christian, Catholic, or Orthodox Church.
  158. Procházka – means “walker, wanderer” in Czech, denoting a traveling tradesman.
  159. Rácz – comes from the Hungarian word “rác,” meaning “Rascian,” an archaic word for a “Serb.”
  160. Radić – a Serbian and Croatian patronymic from Rade, a given name meaning “happy, glad, willing.”
  161. Radović – is Serbian and Montenegrin for “son of Radovan/Rado,” a personal name meaning “willing, glad.”
  162. Rexhepi – is Albanian and Kosovar from the given name Rexhep, of Turkish and Arabic origin.
  163. Rotari – is Romanian, meaning “wheel maker,” from the word “roată,” meaning “wheel.”
  164. Rusu – a common Romanian and Moldovan surname from the word “rus,” meaning “Russian.”
  165. Samaras – is a common Greek surname meaning “saddle maker, saddler.”
  166. Shabani – an Albanian and Persian surname meaning “descended from/of Shaban.”
  167. Shala – is an Albanian and Kosovar surname from “shalë,” meaning “saddler.”
  168. Shehu – is Albanian for a Bektashi “priest,” from the Arabic title “shaykh,” meaning “sheik.”
  169. Shevchenko – means “son of the shoemaker,” from the Ukrainian “shvets” (cobbler).
  170. Sîrbu – is Romanian for a “Serb” and is one of the most common surnames in Romania.
  171. Smirnov – comes from the Russian “smirny,” meaning “quiet, peaceful, meek,” and is highly common in Russia.
  172. Sokolov – means “son of Sokol,” Czech and Slovak for “falcon.”
  173. Solovyov – originates with the Russian “solovey,” meaning “nightingale,” also used in Belarus.
  174. Stanković – comes from the Serbian for “son of Stanko,” a diminutive of Stanislav (becoming famous).
  175. Stojanović – is Serbian and Croatian for “son of Stojan,” a form of Stoyan (to stay/stand).
  176. Sula – an Estonian, Albanian, Serbian, and Croatian diminutive of Stojanović, a patronymic from Stojan (to stand).
  177. Svoboda – originates with the Czech word for “freedom,” denoting a “freeman, freeholder.”
  178. Szabó – also spelled Szabo or Sabo, a common Hungarian surname meaning “tailor.”
  179. Szymański – stems from Szymon, a Polish form of Simon (hearing, listening) or Schuhmann (shoemaker).
  180. Takács – means “weaver” in Hungarian and is of Slavic origin.
  181. Tkachenko – is Eastern Ukrainian from the word “tkach,” meaning “weaver.”
  182. Tóth – also spelled Tót or Toth, is Hungarian for a “Slovak” or “Slavonian (region in Croatia).”
  183. Țurcan – an archaic Romanian surname meaning “farmer” or denoting a type of sheep called țurcane.
  184. Ursu – means “bear” in Romanian and Moldovan, from the Latin word “ursus.”
  185. Varga – comes from a Hungarian term meaning “leatherworker” or “shoemaker” and is Slovakia’s most common surname.
  186. Vasilyev – is Russian-Belarusian, meaning “son of Vasily,” a diminutive derivative of the Greek Basileios (royal/king).
  187. Veselý – stems from a Czech and Slovak nickname meaning “cheerful, merry.”
  188. Vidmar – is Croatian and Slovenian for a tenant or steward of the church’s or ruler’s estate.
  189. Virtanen – one of the most common Finnish surnames, from “virta,” meaning “river, stream.”
  190. Volkov – originates with the Russian word “volk” (wolf) and is a common Russian and Belarusian patronymic.
  191. Vujović – is Serbian, Montenegrin, and Croatian for “son of Vujo,” from the word “vuk” (wolf).
  192. Vuković – is Serbian and Croatian for “son of Vuk,” a given name meaning “wolf.”
  193. Wiśniewski – from “wiśnia” (sour cherry), associated with the Polish village Wiśniewo (town with a cherry tree).
  194. Yakovenko – means “Yakov’s son,” the Ukrainian form of Jacob or James.
  195. Zaytsev – stems from the Russian “zayats” and Ukrainian “zaets,” meaning “hare,” common in Russia and Belarus.
  196. Zhuk – one of the most common Belarusian surnames, from a Slavic word meaning “beetle.”
  197. Zieliński – a nickname for someone who wore green, from the Polish “zielony” (green) and “ziele” (herb).
  198. Zupančič – a popular Slovenian surname meaning “son of Zupan” (village/community headman/elder).

20 Royal European Family Names

These royal European last names are fantastically fancy.

  1. Bernadotte – is French and Swedish for “strong/brave bear,” adopted by the Swedish royal family.
  2. Bonaparte – means “good solution/match” in Italian, associated with an imperial and royal European dynasty.
  3. Bosonid – stems from the Germanic Boso (leader, nobleman), a royal dynasty founded by Boso the Elder.
  4. Bourbon – associated with a French and Spanish royal house, from the Celtic “borb” (hot spring).
  5. Bruce – is Anglo-Norman for “thicket” or “woods,” associated with a Scottish clan and royal house.
  6. Buckingham – comes from the Old English “Buccingahamm” (water meadow of the people of Bucca).
  7. Capet – associated with a French royal dynasty, derived from the Old French for “little duck.”
  8. Courtenay – means “from the court” or “short nose,” in French, associated with a Capetian royal house.
  9. Glücksburg – borne by the Norwegian royal family, meaning “Luck’s Castle.”
  10. Grimaldi – stems from the Italian given name Grimaldo (mask authority), borne by Monaco’s royal family.
  11. Habsburg – comes from the High German Habichtsburg, meaning “hawk’s castle,” associated with a European royal dynasty.
  12. Lancaster – associated with the House of Lancaster, from Loncastre, meaning “town on the River Lune fort.”
  13. Liechtenstein – comes from the Germanic “lieht” (bright) and “stein” (stone), associated with Liechtenstein’s hereditary monarchy.
  14. MacAlpin – is Scottish for “son of Alpin,” from “alp” (lump), once borne by a Gaelic king.
  15. Mountbatten – originates from the town of Battenberg (Mount Batten), belonging to the princely German House.
  16. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha – combines “sax” (one-edged sword), “cow borough,” and Gotha, and is the Belgian royal family’s surname.
  17. Valois – denotes someone residing in a “valley,” associated with a French royal house.
  18. Van Orange – the surname of the Dutch royal family, meaning “from/of (the Principality of) Orange.”
  19. Wettin – comes from the ancestral castle of a royal German dynasty near Wettin town.
  20. Windsor – is Britain’s royal family, likely meaning “riverbank with a windlass” or “windy slope/ridge.”

45 Rare European Surnames for Unique Characters

Here are some of the most uncommon European last names.

  1. Ajax – is of Greek origin, meaning “eagle” or “shiel,” with less than 2,000 bearers worldwide.
  2. Albescu – a Romanian surname from “alb,” meaning “white,” with under 1,000 bearers internationally.
  3. Berrycloth – stems from an English location called Barrowclough, limited to a few bearers in England.
  4. Birdwhistle – has only a handful of bearers worldwide and is English for someone skilled at whistling.
  5. Bonneville – is French for “good town, pleasant settlement” and is fairly uncommon worldwide.
  6. Bozinov – is North Macedonian, meaning “son of Bozhin/Božin,” a Bulgarian personal name.
  7. Bread – is English, possibly denoting a “baker,” or from Brede/Brada from the Old English “brǣdu” (breadth).
  8. Butterworth – an unusual English surname, though not as rare, meaning “butter enclosure/farm.”
  9. Chips – is of English origin, possibly denoting a “carpenter” or a nickname for Christopher and Charles.
  10. Damcevski – comes from North Macedonia, with less than 200 bearers globally, with an uncertain meaning.
  11. Dankworth – derived from the German Tancred (thought/thanks and counsel), combined with the English “worth” (farmstead).
  12. Edevane – is Cornish and Welsh, possibly from the forename “Edwin,” which means “prosperous friend.”
  13. Febland – of English origin and uncertain meaning, limited to England and the U.S.
  14. Fernard – is likely English, but with less than 30 bearers worldwide, it has an unclear meaning.
  15. Fernsby – stems from the Old English “fearn” and the Danish “by,” denoting a “settlement near ferns.”
  16. Gastrell – is English, of uncertain meaning, but possibly a nickname denoting a guest.
  17. Grader – is German and English, meaning “(someone who) evaluates” or “(someone dwelling near) terraced terrain.”
  18. Gruger – comes from Germany and may be a variant of Kruger, meaning “innkeeper.”
  19. Harred – has just over 600 bearers worldwide, of English origin and uncertain meaning.
  20. Hatman – is possibly English for a “hatmaker” or “hat-seller,” or Jewish from Yiddish “hantman” (handman).
  21. Jarsdel – is an almost extinct surname, possibly of English or German origins, with an uncertain meaning.
  22. Kicsi – is a diminutive of a Slavic form of the Hungarian “kis,” meaning “little, small.”
  23. Loughty – an extremely rare Scottish surname from “loch” (lake) and the suffix “ty” (by).
  24. MacCaa – is of Scottish-Irish origin, possibly a form of MacKay meaning “son of Aodh (Hugh).”
  25. Macquoid – is Scottish and Irish, possibly a variant of Mac Uaid (son of Uaid).
  26. Mirren – comes from a Scottish-Gaelic forename meaning “drop of the sea, sea fortress,” “bitter,” or “beloved.”
  27. Nighy – a diminutive of Nigh/Nye, from the Middle English “atten eye,” (at/by the river).
  28. Nithercott – an English name of uncertain meaning that does not appear on popularity charts.
  29. Nuttal – comes from Old English “hnutu hōh” (nut heel/spur of land), with roughly 200 bearers worldwide.
  30. Pauritsch – an Austrian surname of South Slavic origin, for someone living in a valley.
  31. Pober – doesn’t appear on popularity charts but comes from Breton and is of uncertain meaning.
  32. Portendorfer – comes from the Middle High German word “porten-lanke,” meaning “porter” or “gatekeeper.”
  33. Ravenscroft – means “Hræfn’s croft,” from the Old English “hræfn,” meaning “raven,” and “croft,” meaning “enclosed field.”
  34. Raynott – a rare surname with an uncertain meaning.
  35. Relish – has several etymologies but is commonly of English origin, possibly denoting someone delightful.
  36. Rummage – may derive from the Anglo-Norman “ramage” (wild) or the German Rometsch or Rumetsch.
  37. Sallow – stems from the medieval English word “salwe,” a type of willow tree.
  38. Southwark – comes from the Old English “sūþ” (south) and “weorc” (work), with around ten bearers worldwide.
  39. Spinster – is English, historically denoting a “spinner, thread maker,” and a term for an unmarried woman.
  40. Temples – from the Latin “templum,” used in American English for someone near or working in a temple.
  41. Tumbler – is possibly Kentish, from the Middle English “tumber(e)” or “tomber(e),” meaning “tumbler” or “dancer.”
  42. Villin – used mainly in France, a variant of the English “villain,” denoting a commoner.
  43. Wójcik – stems from the Polish word “wójt,” meaning “chief official, mayor,” or from “wojak” (warrior).
  44. Woodbead – may be an extinct ornamental English surname of uncertain meaning.
  45. Woźniak – is Jewish for a coachman/cart driver from the Polish “woźny/wozić” (usher/carrier).

European Last Names FAQS

What Is the Most Popular Last Name in Europe?

The most popular last name in Europe across most languages is Smith, a term for a “blacksmith, metalworker” (1). It may also be spelled Schmidt or Schmitz. Other occupational surnames, such as Müller or Miller, are also highly common (2).

Garcia, likely meaning “bear” from the Basque “hartz,” ranks number one in Spain (3). However, Garcia is also popular in many European Spanish and Portuguese-speaking nations.

What Is the Oldest Surname in Europe?

The oldest surname in Europe is the Irish Ó Briain, Anglicized as O’Brien and O’Brian. It means “descendant of Brian” from the Celtic root “brixs” (hill/high) or “brigā” (might/power).

This Irish last name was recorded in use from 916 A.D. Michael O’Hair’s “Soldier of the Revolution” states, “…in the year 916 A.D., When the “O” was first affixed to a name, it was to designate ‘grandson of Brien.’”

In modern times, all forms of O’Brien are pretty common (4). Despite claims that the Irish O’Cleary/O’Clery is the oldest, there are no documented sources (5).

What Is the Oldest British Surname?

The oldest recorded British surname is Hatt. It is of Anglo-Saxon origin but may even predate the Saxon invasion, having Celtic-language Brythonic roots (6).

Hatt was a surname denoting a “hatter,” someone who made and sold hats. Although not the most popular among European family names, there are about 8,426 bearers worldwide.

What Is the Most British Family Name?

Smith is the most common British family name, popular in Scotland and the UK.

It also ranks first in other English-speaking territories like Canada, Australia, and the U.S. (7).

Originating in medieval times, Smith means “metalworker, blacksmith,” from the Old English “smiþ” (smid). It stems from the word “smitan,” meaning “to smite, to hit.”

What Is the Origin of Surnames in Europe?

Surnames in Europe came from one’s occupation, notable features (often nicknames), an ancestor or father’s name, or a location (8). This resulted in many Smiths/Schmidts, Millers/Müllers, Bakers/Beckers, as well as Martinez and Ivanovs.

The landmass of Europe is broken into many languages and cultures, resulting from a long history of migration, wars, and assimilations. Hence, European last names often have Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, or Norman roots. Others derive from Latin, Greek, and even Persian and Arabic.

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About the Author

Leigha Mayers

Leigha-Ceres Mayers is a freelance editor and copywriter from Trinidad and Tobago. Previously a primary school assistant teacher, she went on to acquire a TESOL certification before transitioning to freelancing. Outside of researching baby names, Leigha works alongside her husband, producing and publishing romance sci-fi and fantasy books. As a mum of two, she uses what little spare time she has to create traditional and digital works of art. Her other hobbies include voracious reading, watching anime, and learning new languages.